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Words associated with University

25th August 2011 11:03:57

A recent survey of 4,000 people in the UK has shown that the words residents most associate with university are words such as “expensive”, “fees” and “cost”.

GraduatesThe word “expensive” was the most mentioned (775), followed by “fees” (171). However, more than half of those asked why people choose to go to university mentioned “fun”.

The survey also showed that people were five times more likely to recommend higher education to young people than to not do so. The results from the survey, which was carried out by YouGov-Cambridge, were analysed by the Pearson Centre for Policy and Learning.

People aged 55 or above were shown to be more enthusiastic about higher education compared to 18-34 year olds. When asked how likely they were to recommend university education to young people on a scale of 0 (not likely) to 10 (extremely likely), 50% of people in the older age group answered eight or above. Amongst 18-34 year olds 42% answered eight or above.

The government, which has raised tuition fees in England to up to £9,000 per year, has said young people should not be put off university because of the cost or by failing to understand the funding system. However, the research showed that respondents from Scotland – where home students do not pay any fees – were most in favour of higher education.

53% of respondents in Scotland answered eight or above, in London the number was 50%, 48% in the East and between 42% and 45% elsewhere.

The survey showed working class respondents to be less likely to say eight or above (42%) compared to wealthier respondents (47%).

Cost-related words were most prominent in terms of associations. However positive words, for example “important” (116 mentions), “opportunities” (107) and “essential” (51) were also frequently mentioned.

Amongst the negative words mentioned, “elitist” (64), “waste” (77) and “lazy” (18) dominated.

Respondents were asked to mention one single word that could be a reason for people to go to university, and more than half answered “fun”. “Alcohol” (6) was also mentioned, together with “drinking” (6), “parties” (13) and “drunks” (5).

This was more than the mentions of words such as “career” or “ambition”, which landed at 5.1% and 4.4%.

A spokesperson for the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills emphasised that it was important no one was put off applying to university because they do not understand the new system. He said “Most students will not pay upfront costs” and added that there will be more financial support for students from disadvantaged families.

However the president of the National Union of Students, Liam Burns, warned that when younger generations and people from poorer backgrounds are less likely to recommend higher education, we are really in trouble.

He said; "There are of course many factors that will influence a potential student's perception of higher education but I would hardly be surprised if the government's chaotic policy of trebling tuition fees isn't a significant one".

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